Déjà vu? 2010 BMW 535xi Touring M-Sport

Just the other day, I wondered what kind of large wagon you could still buy. The Mercedes-Benz E-Class and recently introduced Volvo V90 seem to be the last two holdouts in what was once a robust market of longroof models. Back up a decade, and you could add the Audi A6 Avant and 5-series Touring/Sport Wagon to the mix, and both are still quite desirable in their last form.

With forced induction and plenty of technology as well as a sport ride, both the Audi and BMW entrants into the marketplace were expensive alternatives to the rest of the now traditional “Sport Utility” lineups. And both sold in very small numbers, giving enthusiasts precious few options to choose from when it comes to the used market. In the case of the BMW, the most desirable models are the M-Sport models offered late in the run, and they’re not frequently seen. So much so, that when this one popped up I was certain it was the same 2010 I looked at recently. The color combination of Tiefseeblau Metallic and Natural Brown Dakota combined with the M-Sport package seemed too unlikely to immediately come across again; yet, here we are, with a VIN only about 100 after the recent example. Is this one a winner?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2010 BMW 535xi Touring on Seattle Craigstlist

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2010 BMW 535xi Touring M-Sport

It’s been a while since I last updated you on the trials and tribulations of E61 ownership. And, there have been a few exciting events which pertain to this car. Some of that comes down to learning about the quirks of ownership. For example, the iDrive system has a habit of notifying you of problems well after they’ve occurred. Like the E46, the E61 utilized the ABS speed sensors to calculate rotation of the wheels to determine if you’ve got a flat tire. So, if you..say…swap wheels and forget to notify the car that you’ve done so, it gets very unhappy (but, not immediately – only a few miles down the road will it tell you something occurred). Navigating the menus to find specific items can be laborious, but with time it gets better and you start to figure it out. But the electronic nannies don’t end there; the “IBS” – Intelligent Battery Sensor – proved to be anything but intelligent, as it malfunctioned and decided that the car shouldn’t start. It took a lot of internet diving to determine that simply unplugging the connector would fix the problem. Of course, that sensor is directly under the drains for the sunroof, which unfortunately seem to have a habit of randomly leaking (and, according to the never-wrong internet, are almost always the cause of the woes with the IBS).

Then there’s the service warning.

Say your 11 year old car uses (read: leaks) a little oil. Fine, no problem, top it up. But the E6x FREAKS OUT that you’ve lost a little oil and basically tells you you’re about to grenade the motor. Except, it doesn’t do this when you first start the car. No, because the N52 carries some 7 quarts of synthetic it waits for the oil to warm up prior to notifying you there’s a problem. And there is no dipstick. So, you have to wait for the car to determine if it has oil, which it will do ONCE YOU REACH YOUR DESTINATION AND DON’T HAVE OIL IN HAND. And then you finally get home, pop open the special BMW oil and it only takes 1/4 of a quart. You’re telling me at 6.75 liters of oil you think the level is “CRITICAL“, car?!?! And there are the parking sensors, which don’t notify you of how close you are to the thing you’re about to hit when you’re pulling up, but when you engage reverse it then, once again, FREAKS OUT that you’re about to roll into something (even if you’re in reverse). And God forbid there be ice or snow covering those sensors, because then the car erupts in what sounds like a nuclear test warning. DUCK AND COVER. DUCK AND COVER!!!!!!

Who the hell designed these systems?

I don’t paint a pretty picture of E6x ownership, but the reality is these are coming-to-terms things. The solutions are simple once you’ve figured them out (which, admittedly can be difficult), and then you’re left to enjoy the great aspects of the car. And great it is. Dynamically, the E61 seems to defy physics. The steering is outstanding, the motor sounds great and the 6-speed automatic is almost always on point. The all-wheel drive is seamless, the seats are hugely comfortable, and the car is quiet, composed and comfortable in almost every situation. It has an awesome cruise control system – by far the best I’ve ever experienced. And it returns a shocking 30+ mpg at 80 m.p.h. average on the highway. Pop it into Sport mode, and suddenly the car is transformed, feeling light, agile and quick on its feet despite the 4,000+ lb curb weight. The brakes are awesome, confidence inspiring and yet not too aggressive, and it was able to swallow an entire bathtub basin with no difficulty. As do-it-all cars go, it’s a compelling option. So let’s take a look at one of the end-of-the-run E61s, turned up a bit over my 530xiT. This is the twin-turbocharged N54 powered 535xi Touring, and this one has the optional (and rare) M-Sport package:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2010 BMW 535xi Touring M-Sport on eBay

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Horned Mythological Beast? 2008 BMW 535xi Touring 6-speed

There are a lot of often used and consequently misused terms in the automotive world. Recently, I saw a post asking what the most annoying or inappropriate car name was and the comments slowly devolved into just hating on certain types of cars rather than poorly named cars. A bad car is the PT Cruiser, and while the name “PT Cruiser” is odd, it’s not as off-putting to me as some other names – like, for example, the Japanese adding of “a” to the end of a normal word to make a car name. Yesterday I was behind a Suzuki Forenza – theoretically, named for Firenza (itself misspelled, since it should really be Firenze), the Italian name of Florence. Having been to Florence, I can find nothing in common with that city and the car. Nor can I find anything in common with the wonderful Italian Renaissance city and the Daewoo Lacetti which the Suzuki is based upon. Of course, there is a real city of Forenza, but since it’s a random obscure place in the center of relatively poor Southern Italy, I doubt that the geniuses at Suzuki felt it would be poignant to name a car after it. Of course, then again – it’s a cheap and obscure car – so perhaps they’re more clever than I give them credit for. But, I digress.

Where was I going? Oh, that’s right. Unicorns. The term “Unicorn” is one that I run across nearly every day in my daily car searches. Now, by itself that would negate the whole idea of the unicorn, right? I mean they’re supposed to be rare, but if everyone has them then they’re not very rare, are they? Okay, so the frequency with which I seem to find self-described unicorns is off. Perhaps they’re Narwhals? That might be more appropriate, since I also never see hooves, they’re infrequently white, and their blood doesn’t keep others alive – nor is it silver. Did I mention they’re also not immortal? Then there is the issue of who is able to capture them. Now, while wizards are theoretically able to use their magic wands to put unicorns under a trance, folklore would tell us that really it’s only virgins who can subdue a unicorn. Beyond that, though, there’s a much larger issue with the descriptor:

“So, what’s the issue with Unicorns?”
“Imagine a cat,” Rose said. “Not just a cat, but a cat that is such a cat, other cats come to it for cat lessons. Take a thousand cats, refine them down to a single drop of pure essence of cat, and make a whole cat out of the stuff.”
I shivered. “Ewww. And that’s a Unicorn?”
“No,” she said. “That’s an Elf. A Unicorn is a thousand times worse. An Elf you can reason with.”
Bryan Fields, Life With a Fire-Breathing Girlfriend

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2008 BMW 535xi Touring on eBay

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2010 BMW 535xi Touring 6-speed

Longroofs are the perfect way to add a confused look on most people considering sports cars. “But how could a mom’s car be a good driver’s car?” “Wagons are slow.” Etc. Well, real car fans know some of the coolest sports cars in the world have been wagons. RS2/4/6? E63 Wagon? Who doesn’t want an M5 Touring (side note, I saw an M5 Touring with Antigua plates at a local gokart track. Foreign envy boiling)? Well, this isn’t quite an M5 Touring, but it’s about as good as we’ll get in the States. With a twin-turbo 3.0l inline-6 and all wheel drive, this almost sounds like one of those fancy-fast Audi wagons! The cherry on top is the rare 6-speed manual, an ever-increasingly refreshing sight these days. Edging this 535xi a little closer to M5ness is an M-Sport Package and Dinan goodies, including chip and exhaust pushing the N54 to over 380hp and 420lb-ft. Not bad for the most popular car in Silicon Valley soccer field parking lots.

2010 BMW 535xi Touring 6-Speed for sale on BMWCCA CLassifieds

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I think you would be very hard pressed to find another sport wagon–with the M-sport package, no less–fitted with a 6-speed manual in the US. This is a fully loaded car in immaculate condition. Additionally, the car has the Dinan Stage 3 engine tune and a custom fitted Dinan exhaust. Michelin Pilot Sports replace the standard run-flats. Immaculate condition. No dings. No wheel rash. Fully loaded, save for rear air bags. I have thoroughly enjoyed this car. It is special. Looking for the right home!

I was pretty surprised to see the potency of the Dinan upgrades (although Dinan only lists 2 stages and the ad says it’s “Stage 3”). Combined with the standard-yet-rare option boxes already ticked, this is a kickass wagon. I’ve heard these aren’t the most trouble-free BMWs, but if you’re looking for a modern car that is fun to drive anywhere and that can handle a family, it’s hard to deny the versatility and good choices present on this 535xi. $46k is a bit steep, but not out of line. Thank goodness it doesn’t have M5 fender vents.

-NR

2008 BMW 535xi Touring

We have a soft spot for fast estates here at GCFSB. We’ve featured a few Mercedes-Benz E class AMG estates along with some Audi S4 and S6 Avants, but one of the more obscure five doors of recent memory is the BMW 535xi. Currently, BMW does not sell a 5 series Touring in the US, opting instead to foist the, ahem, aesthetically challenged 5 series Gran Turismo on us. I’ve only seen two of these things on the street and not surprisingly, sales have not been good. While BMW considers whether to bring the 5 series Touring back to the States, this E60 535xi is the newest 5 series estate we’ll have a crack at. And this one for sale in New York has one important feature: a 6 speed manual transmission.

2008 BMW 535xi Touring on AutoTrader

Clean Carfax, one owner, 6 speed manual, sport package, 18″ wheels, comfort multi contour seats, Dakota leather, Premium and Cold Weather packages, front and rear heated seats, heated steering wheel, navigation, heads up display, lane departure warning system, rear side impact air bags, rear sunshades, Logic 7 sound, HD radio, rare car with all the options.

While not as fast as some German estates, the 300 horsepower from the 3.0 liter twin turbo inline six cylinder engine in this 535xi is certainly enough to get the job done and then some. Three pedals in a family hauler like this might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but that’s OK. It would certainly help come negotiation time on the price. Almost $37,000 for a 5 series that is creeping up on 50,000 miles is a bit difficult to stomach. If this car was priced between $30,000 to $33,000 it would be more in line with the market for these right now. For the person wanting a fast five door with three pedals, there aren’t many choices these days. Even if there was more competition in the segment, the 535xi would still stand head and shoulders above the rest.

-Paul